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Project Angel Food Honors Aileen Getty With Elizabeth Taylor Leadership Award

Project Angel Food Honors Aileen Getty With Elizabeth Taylor Leadership Award

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Sharon Stone presented the award to the Gettlove founder for her charitable work helping the homeless.

Aileen-getty-and-sharon-stone-x400dLeft: Aileen Getty and Sharon Stone

It was a family affair at last weekend’s Angel Awards Gala, a fundraiser and 25th anniversary celebration for Project Angel Food in Los Angeles. The organization, which was founded to deliver meals to the critically ill during the onset of the AIDS crisis, was honoring Aileen Getty, the former daughter-in-law of Elizabeth Taylor, and the award she accepted bore the late actress’s name.

Getty, an heiress of the renowned American dynasty, emerged in the national spotlight in the 1990s, when she became one of the first prominent women of her social standing to come out as HIV-positive. The Elizabeth Taylor Leadership Award tacitly acknowledged her bravery in speaking out at a time when few dared and recognized her ongoing work in her nonprofit organization Gettlove, an L.A.-based program that helps the homeless find shelter as well as their own footing.

“It is such an honor to receive mom’s first leadership award,” said Getty, who was surrounded by members of her family onstage. “I can only hope to mirror what she did for others.”

“Thank you to my family,” the benefactress concluded. “You have been my constant anchor. I am blown away every day by your love and support. I am so grateful to be surrounded by so much love here this evening.”

As the founder of amfAR and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Taylor was the first celebrity of note to draw national attention to the HIV and AIDS crisis in the United States, a fact noted by her stepdaughter (and Scandal actress) Kate Burton in her introduction of the award.

“People know and people knew my stepmom as a famous movie actress, but at her fundamental core, she was a caring, compassionate person who advocated for the neediest of the needy,” said Burton, who is the daughter of actor Richard Burton. “And let’s face it. She was the first person to talk about AIDS and create an important part of the national conversation.”

Kate-burton-x400dRight: Kate Burton

Burton also noted the many descendants of Taylor in the audience who were carrying on her legacy, including Taylor's son, Christopher Wilding, and grandchildren Tarquin Wilding, Naomi Wilding, Caleb Wilding, and Lola Wilding. The guests, among them Bruce Vilanch, Balthazar Getty, Eric Dane, Rebecca Gayheart, and Marianne Williamson, were seated behind the Project Angel Food center in Hollywood in a parking lot that had been transformed with white sheets and carpeting for the gala.

In addition to her work with ETAF and amfAR, Taylor also served as a trustee for Project Angel Food. An early donation from ETAF enabled the organization to build its first kitchen, and Taylor would occasionally help in delivering meals to those in need.

Though not related by blood or marriage, Sharon Stone, who introduced Getty at the event, is still very much a spiritual descendant of the violet-eyed actress. As the celebrity spokesperson for amFAR, Stone continues to bear the torch that Taylor lit as well as the noble pursuit of combining star power with advocacy.

“She used her fame, which was such a legendary kind of fame, to become more, to change the world in an enormous way,” Stone said at the event's red carpet. “[Taylor] taught me a lot of what it is to be humble … and having the courage to stand up and say the true thing at any cost.”

To learn more about Project Angel Food, which continues its life-changing mission of delivering 10,000 meals weekly to those in need, visit AngelFood.org.

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